“That is maybe step one in direction of domestication,” stated Benjamin Geffroy, a biologist on the College of Montpellier in France. “Now we have to know extra about what comes first, docility or cognitive skills.”
Some analysis suggests the method of domestication modifications how animals assume. Canines, for instance, are higher than wolves or nonhuman primates at following some human gestures, resembling pointing to hidden meals.
This doesn’t essentially imply that raccoons will quickly be studying our gestures. However residing alongside animals which may be evolving to use our presence would possibly imply folks want to higher perceive how the animals assume as a way to keep away from conflicts with them, the researchers stated.
Raccoons, nonetheless, may very well be notably troublesome. Working with captive raccoons has satisfied Dr. Benson-Amram that they really get pleasure from cognitive challenges. “We give them issues, and even when there’s no reward, they simply hold going for it,” she stated.
Raccoons in city environments will also be remarkably persistent, stated Suzanne MacDonald, an animal conduct scientist at York College in Toronto. For one examine, she put an open can of cat meals in a trash bin, secured the lid with a bungee twine and deployed it in backyards to see how raccoons would react.
“I had one feminine spend like eight hours attempting to get in,” Dr. MacDonald stated. “And he or she did.”
Raccoons are sometimes perceived as invasive, Dr. MacDonald stated, however people are those who invaded their land.
“These guys have found out a method to reside with us,” she stated. “Absolutely to God, we are able to use our large cortexes and determine a method to reside with them.”
Betsy Mason is a contract journalist and a 2022 Alicia Patterson Basis fellow.